Preview by: Jack Foley
'I THINK that the horror genre is definitely coming back.
I think movies like The Ring, really helped it out, and The Others...
Right now, movies like House of a Thousand Corpses, and 28 Days
Later, are doing very, very well in America, but I think that
horror has been in the shitter since 1985... What the fuck happened
to horror movies?'
So says Eli Roth, the livewire director of cult new horror movie,
Cabin Fever, which opened to critical acclaim in US cinemas at
the weekend (September 12).
Roth was speaking at a Q&A following an advance screening
of his movie in London earlier this year, and had plenty to say
on the subject.
And yet he is talking from a position of strength. Cabin Fever
is the type of horror classic that is evoking favourable comparisons
with the likes of George Romero, Wes Craven, John Carpenter and,
more latterly, the likes of The Blair Witch Project.
The film tells the story of five college friends, cut loose after
their finals, who go on a vacation to a cabin in the woods to
enjoy a few days of debauchery and fun.
After a particularly madcap incident, they begin to grow paranoid
that they have become infected with a flesh-eating virus.
But as fear of the contagion and distrust sets in, they begin
to realise that any one of them could have it - and that it may
already be too late to prevent the inevitable.
Cabin Fever will be released by Redbus Film Distribution in cinemas
across the UK from October 10 and looks set to be the hottest
ticket for fright fans this Halloween.
The film, which expertly mixes stark horror with unexpected humour
and plenty of movie in-jokes, stars Rider Strong (Boy Meets World),
Jordan Ladd (Never Been Kissed), Joey Kern (Super Troopers), Cerina
Vincent (Not Another Teen Movie) and James DeBello (Swimfan).
Roth co-wrote the screenplay with fellow debutant, Randy Pearlstein
from a story by Roth.
And when asked to elaborate more on how he feels about the horror
movie genre, at present, he states:
"The last good horror movie was Re-Animator, and what happened
was, basically in pop culture, Schwarzenegger movies took over
and it was no longer about what was a scary idea, but, like, how
can we kill these different people; what weapons do we use; what
punchline can the killer make every time he kills someone?
"When Arnold Schwarzenegger is asked what happens to a certain
character and he says, I let them go [referring to
dropping someone off the side of a mountain], American writers
ate that shit up. It was like Freddy Kreuger came along and was
uttering lines like, have a knife day!
"What the fuck happened to horror movies? I mean, in the
Seventies, you had directors like William Friedkin, Richard Donner,
Stanley Kubrick, who made horror movies; and then in the Eighties
you got these fucking shitty slasher movies.
"I mean nothing happened until Scream. Then Scream comes
along and its great, because these kids are aware of other
horror films, but then, unfortunately, the screen rip-offs are
all like, woah, lets make a horror movie! -
they have to reference everything to death, and again it no longer
became about whats scary, but how can we kill the kids this
With the new batch, however, Roth has seen some hope for the
future and has reportedly teamed up with Donnie Darko writer/director,
Richard Kelly, for his next 'fucked up' adventure.
Cabin Fever has gone down a storm in America, where the majority
of critics found it a refreshing change from the horror norm.
Comments such as, 'this impressively icky, witty scare pic from
director, Eli Roth, combines the hillbilly-country horror of the
first Blair Witch Project with the viral decimation and paranoia
of 28 Days Later', from the Philadelphia Inquirer, seemed
to be the order of the day.
The Detroit Free Press, meanwhile, wrote that 'on the
surface, Cabin Fever might seem like just another ripoff of the
Michigan-made cult classic The Evil Dead, but it has a style and
sense of humor entirely its own'.
And the Detroit News wrote that 'Cabin Fever may be low-budget
gore-gore silliness, but it's passionate low-budget gore-gore
The New York Times, meanwhile, wrote that Cabin Fever
represents 'an unusually potent blend of dread, gore and gallows
humor', while the Globe and Mail opined that 'Cabin Fever
is imitative, but it's honestly and even reverentially so - what
Roth borrows he at least has the grace to pay back'.
USA Today felt that '[Roth] has more going for him cinematically
than the folks who did The Blair Witch Project'.
While Village Voice wrote that 'beginning with the sound
of flies over the opening credits, Roth's sure-handed movie is
rife with queasy discomfort'.
And E! Online wrote that 'what makes this gross-out number
stand out from the menacing movie masses is not that it's shot
with gritty, low-budget cinematography but that it's freakin'
There were some negative notices, however, with a few critics
finding the in-jokes a little too repetitive.
The Boston Globe, for example, stated that 'the movie
is well shot and decently acted for its genre, but it lacks the
distinctive vision to make it of value to anyone not already convinced
of the inherent entertainment value in flying body parts'.
And Entertainment Weekly felt that it 'would make a decent
midnight movie, but I wish there were something in it that felt
original'. It awarded it a C+.
Hollywood Reporter, meanwhile, felt that it 'ultimately
coaxes more titters than jitters', while the Chicago Tribune
felt that it 'doesn't have enough of a twist to improve on the
type of films it's derived from'.
The San Francisco Chronicle went a little bit further,
however, writing that 'Cabin Fever starts small, and stays small,
never reaching the transcendent Blair Witch heights of the biggest
And the Washington Post opined that 'this movie may appeal
to the youthful, midnight-madness crowd, but there isn't enough
in it to bestow it with classic B-movie glory'.
But back to the positives, and Hollywood Bitchslap wrote
that 'Cabin Fever takes the standard conventions of slasher flicks
and turns them on their ear, straddling the line between parody
and originality and humping it madly. This is not your average
walk in the horror park - this is a cinema fan's wet dream'.
Slant Magazine, meanwhile, wrote that 'if the film's scares
don't shock you, then you're sure to catch its razor-sharp wit'.
And Rolling Stone concludes this round-up by hailing as
'a blast of good gory fun that just won't quit', adding that it
resembles 'a greatest-hits of horror'.
IndieLondon will, of course, be delivering its verdict in October,
but you can catch some teaser trailers and clips by following
the links in the right hand column of this page...